Panaji, Aug 21 :
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Thursday apologised for referring to an African national as a ‘Negro’ spelt wrongly as “Nigro”, in an annexure submitted to the state assembly by the home ministry.
“If someone is hurt, I apologise,” Parrikar told the state assembly during zero hour.
Parrikar blamed a police clerk for the error.
“These clerks don’t understand how serious a particular word is,” Parrikar said.
The annexure was submitted with Parrikar’s written reply tabled during the monsoon session of the state assembly Wednesday.
It referred to an African national arrested in the beach village of Calangute May 8 as an “unknown African Nigro”.
“Negro” is considered a racially offensive word once used to refer the African Americans and Africans.
Parrikar Thursday said it was not even clear whether the person arrested is from an African nation and what was clear is that he is an “unknown person dark in complexion”.
The chief minister said the word “Negro” has two meanings. “Never refer a dark person as a Negro because it is a derogatory word…Negro also means a river in Brazil which goes into the Atlantic Ocean,” he said.
The Congress Wednesday lambasted the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government for the usage of the word in official documents, saying such unfortunate references create a bad image about Goa among the international tourist community.
“A circular needs to be sent to departments asking them to refrain from making such racist remarks. We are a tourist state and such words send negative signals to international tourists,” Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat said.
In November 2013, while responding to a road blockade by Nigerians protesting the murder of a fellow national, Goa’s Art and Culture Minister Dayanand Mandrekar called Nigerians a “cancer”, before apologising for his words.
Subhash Phaldesai, a BJP legislator from Sanguem, described Nigerians as “wild animals” pumped with drugs shortly after the incident.
A local English newspaper also went to the extent of using the word ‘Nigro’ last year while referring to Nigerians, while quoting a police officer in its report. The newspaper later apologised for the mistake.